Local National Library Week events seek to prove there are some gifts the internet just can’t give

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In a world gone digital, celebrating a building of books may seem like a thing of the past. But this year’s National Library Week theme reminds Americans of all the ways a system of free, indiscriminately-accessible books is still relevant – and irreplaceable.

Observed this year from April 10-16, National Library Week promotes the value, services and impact provided by libraries all over the country. 2016’s theme “Libraries Transform” honors the library as the original mode of mass sharing of knowledge and information, and asks citizens to elevate its importance in American culture by recognizing its unique value. The overwhelming message is – the library isn’t dead, and there’s plenty it can do that the internet never will.

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Interestingly, the origins of this national observance were to reclaim the status of the library in the face of new media. In the mid-1950s, research revealed Americans were spending less time reading and more time with radios and televisions. Concerned about decreased reading, active citizens developed National Library Week based on the idea that if people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. The original 1958 theme was “Wake Up and Read!

Decades later, library use is lower than ever, causing some to consider them obsolete. But library advocates have assembled a list of reasons why this American institution still matters. With a campaign touting statistics like “Libraries matter because more than 25% of American households don’t have an internet connection,” and “because students can’t afford scholarly articles on a ramen noodle budget,” the “Libraries Transform” theme is committed to reclaiming the library’s honor.

In addition to presenting startling facts in an almost scientific nature, the campaign also tries appealing to Americans more spiritual side. A group meditation event at Lake County’s Tavares branch proves there are some things you just can’t do via the internet. This free “Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Workshop,” held from 10 – 11 a.m. on Thursday April 14, demonstrates how the library functions as a social and educational center, where community members can come together face-to-face and learn valuable skills – for free.

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The event is promoted as a way to learn to meditate to increase productivity, happiness, balance and inspiration and it invites you to bring a journal to share your experience. Not only is the campaign transforming American views of the library, it may just transform you a little in the process.

The event will be held from 10 – 11 a.m. on Thurs. April 14 in the TRA Room at 100 E. Caroline St. in Tavares. To learn more, please call Marli Lopez at (352) 742-6204.

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